|Mark Coups - CEO, English Lacrosse|
|Profile of the week|
Monday, 23 September 2013 10:13
Mark Coups became CEO of the English Lacrosse Association in April 2013.
Mark held the role of Director of Development and coaching prior to this appointment and was instrumental in the success of the governing body.
Mark has driven lacrosse participation, club growth and English Lacrosse Membership forward in his 20 years at the governing body. He has ambitious plans to continue this success.
By Ismail Uddin
You were recently appointed as CEO from a competitive application process which included 67 applicants. Were you surprised to get selected?
I was certainly pleased. I mean I have worked for the organisation as their Chief Operating Officer for the last eight years so I know the business pretty well. I also knew quite a few of the other applicants coming in so I understood that the governing body was going to take a really professional view about who they were going to appoint. The last chief executive was in the post for the last 27 years so he has been very long standing. The organisation needed to take a positive view on who's going to lead the organisation in order to make changes to the sport so I knew the competition for the role would be top class. I am extremely fortunate to be offered the role.
You have stepped up from your previous COO role. How much of a difference are the roles and how has the experience been so far? What's the toughest decision you've had to make?
As COO what I was focused on was the key delivery programs to meet the outcomes of the organisation. I've been very focused on the idea of increasing participation in the sport and the services around that goal including increasing numbers of volunteers, increasing number of coaches and increasing the number of clubs.
Whereas when you stepping into the CEO role you're taking more of an overview of strategy and the organisation and not just looking into just one area. It’s enabled me to put into play some of the learning that I have been undertaking over the last couple of years in leadership, business management and development. This has enabled me to have a pan-organisational view and really grip some areas that weren't being addressed over the last couple of years. That has been quite a healthy and cathartic change after being very operational the last eight years.
I think the toughest decision I've had to make have been centred on our talent programs. Our talent programs were one of the key highlights for me to address early on. I've had to make decisions there and parted with some longstanding people within the game. We have actually managed to bring somebody who has expertise outside of the sport to address that area.
I used to play Lacrosse at University and what was apparent was the lack of knowledge I had and many others had about the sport before I came there. How have you made it so the sport is more accessible to youngsters and increasing the knowledge of the sport?
I think there are two things I would say about that. The first thing is that University is a very big target market for us. If you're not in a Lacrosse playing area where there is a community club around the corner you're unlikely to see Lacrosse until you've gone to University but you're actually going to experience new things and being a fairly confident and social team sport we reflect the University market pretty well. We're not of a size where we can go into the general schools market and sell Lacrosse to 25,000 schools in the country. We would be wasting our time and wasting our resources so therefore what we do is focus on our community club system and ensure where we have community clubs in place where we are actually developing school networks and ability for young people to play the sport around that club.
One of the things the University network has done is allow people to form more clubs. Students have left University and had a very positive experience with the sport and wanted to continue and that's been a drive for more community clubs being created. It's been fantastic for us. We have doubled in size over the last five years in the number of people playing and through the University system.
In the US they use a very strong College system to strengthen their sport. What have you learnt from the college system that has helped English Lacrosse?
We have a student exchange program with people actually leaving US universities and we bring about 80 of them over each year to help support the game in our country. We've had that program going for the best part of twenty years. Every year that program becomes bigger and develops further. One of the things we are seeing, that has been new for the last couple of years, is that universities want to bring these people over to develop university networks and the school programs which is really exciting and a new initiative.